The State Law Library began in 1827 as the State Library, an agency of the executive branch (Chapter 53, Acts of 1827). It served the legal and general reference needs of the Legislature and Judiciary. Renamed the State Law Library, it came under the Judiciary in 1978 (Chapter 128, Laws of 1978).

The State Law Library provides legal information to the State's appellate courts and other branches of State government and serves as a resource center for Circuit Court libraries throughout the State. Open to the public, the Library encourages the use of its extremely valuable reference resources, including laws, general reference materials, State and federal government documents, and State and local histories and genealogies. With a total collection of over 350,000 volumes, the Library offers the researcher access to unique resources. The collection, basically composed of reference material, does not circulate, except to State agency personnel. Much of the collection, however, is available on interlibrary loan and photocopy facilities are available to patrons.

Legal Materials. Legal materials constitute most of the collection. They include reported court decisions from all appellate jurisdictions across the country and Great Britain. Laws, both in session law form and as statutory compilations, also are filed in the Library from nearly every state, as are all federal and some foreign statutes. Library holdings of legal periodicals include 500 subscriptions from all major law schools and many bar associations and commercial publishers. Legal texts and topical loose-leaf reporting services are collected with briefs and record extracts from the U.S. Supreme Court and Maryland appellate courts, and other legal reference sources.

State and Federal Government Documents. The Library has been a select U.S. government depository for federal agency and congressional publications for many years. As a result, it has collected and indexed thousands of reference publications in the areas of social sciences, economics, law enforcement, legislative histories, and other disciplines. The Library also is a depository for all Maryland State agency publications and contains one of the most complete retrospective collections of State government information in Maryland. In addition, all county governments must file copies of their codes with the Library.

Local History and Genealogy Collection. This resource, developed over two centuries, complements much of the original source material available for research at the State Archives across the street and the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. Holdings include Maryland census schedules, 1776-1920 (with name indexes through 1850); a complete run of the Baltimore Sun (1837 to date); and numerous county histories, family genealogies, and research guides.

At the State Law Library also are rare books and early Maryland maps and documents, including the subscription edition of James Audubon's four-volume elephant folio, Birds of America. On display in the Library are the classic lithograph prints of each of the official state birds for thirty-five states and the American Bald Eagle painted by Richard Sloane (commissioned by the Nature Society). The Library was designated as the official depository for these prints by the Governor in 1970.

The governing board of the Library is the Library Committee. It is composed of at least three members appointed by the Court of Appeals. The Committee appoints the Director, develops rules for the Library, and authorizes the purchase of new titles (Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, secs. 13-502, 13-503).

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Maryland Manual On-Line

 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2000

July 18, 2000   
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